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Research infrastructure

The Federal Science Policy provides the Belgium's contribution to the following intergovernmental research organisations:

ECMWF (European Centre for Medium-range Weather Forecasts)
ECMWF is an intergovernmental organisation which performs and distributes medium-range weather forecasts - i.e. between 4-10 days in advance - by means of complex computer models and provides them to the member states. The evolution of the atmosphere is predicted on the basis of the most recent observational data from the meteorological satellites. Such reliable forecasts meet needs in the sectors of transportation, tourism, construction, agriculture, environmental management, the general public, etc. Since 1995, long-range forecasts ("Seasonal Prediction") have been carried out which are highly valuable, e.g. for the management of drought or floods (e.g. the El Niño effect). The Belgian representation is provided by the Royal Meteorological Institute and the Federal Science Policy.
Read more on the ECMWF website...

EMBL (European Molecular Biology Laboratory)
The EMBL was established in 1974 to promote the development of molecular biology throughout Europe. It is supported by twenty member states and is one of the top research institutions in its field. The main laboratory is situated in Heidelberg (Germany) with outstations in Hamburg, Grenoble (Fr), Hinxton (the European Bioinformatics Institute, UK) and in Monterotondo (It). Its mission is to conduct basic research, to provide essential services to scientists in its member states, to provide high-level training to its staff, students and visitors, and to develop new technologies and instrumentation for biological research. EMBL has a unique system of staff turnover that enables it to produce a constant flow of highly qualified researchers and to build networks around the world.
The EMBC (European Molecular Biology Conference) was created to promote mobility of European life scientists. For this purpose it offers up to two-year postdoctoral grants. It also organises various courses and seminars
Read more on the EMBL website...
Read more on the EMBC website...

ESO (European Southern Observatory)
ESO, the European Southern Observatory, is an intergovernmental organisation currently (2009) supported by 14 countries. Created in 1962, with Belgium as a founding member, its mission is to play a leading role in Europe in promoting and organising cooperation in astronomical research. The headquarters are located in Garching (Germany). ESO operates three world-class observing sites in the Atacama desert region of Chili:
1- La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor. The La Silla Observatory (ESO’s first site), 600 km north of Santiago at 2400 m altitude, is equipped with several medium-sized optical telescopes, among others the revolutionary 3.5-metre New Technolgy Telescope (NTT).
2- The Very Large Telescope (VLT) on Paranal, a 2600 m high mountain south of Antofagasta, is the flagship facility of European astronomy. It is an array of 4 telescopes, each with a main mirror of 8.2 metres in diameter, with the option to use it as a giant optical interferometer (VLTI) by combining the light from several telescopes, including one or more of the 4 moveable 1.8-metre Auxilliary telescopes. The observatory is operational since 1999.
3- The Atacama Large Millmeter/submilllimeter Array (ALMA), since 2003 in construction on the Chajnantor plateau at 5000 m elevation near San Pedro de Atacama, will comprise an array of 66 giant 12-metre and 7-metre diameter antennas. The project is a partnership between Europe (ESO), Japan and North America in cooperation with Chile. Scientific observations will start in 2011.
The next step is to build a 39,3-metre European Extremely Large optical – near infrared Telescope (E-ELT) for which detailed construction plans are now ready. It should become “the biggest eye on the sky”.
Each year, about 2000 proposals are made for the use of ESO telescopes, requesting between four to six times more observing time than available. All Belgian research teams active in the field of astronomy and astrophysics are represented in the Belgian National ESO-Committee (BNEC). It serves as an information and coordination platform in order to optimise the Belgian participation in ESO activities.
Read more on the ESO website...
Read more about the Belgian ESO Industry Day 2011...

ESRF (European Synchrotron Radiation Facility)
The European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) is a large experimental facility for fundamental and applied research in physics, chemistry, materials and the life sciences. It offers experimental X-ray beam stations (called 'beamlines') in Grenoble (France). The synchrotron radiation used in the beamlines enables research scientists to conduct novel experiments that otherwise would be well beyond their reach. The research programme is set by Scientific Review Committees, which review the research proposals that are submitted to the organisation. Research scientists from the ESRF's member countries may use the experimental facilities free of charge, but their experimental results must be published in scientific journals. Confidential proprietary research is possible for a fee. Belgium participates via the Benesync consortium, formed in 1990 with the Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (Dutch Organisation for Scientific Research) from the Netherlands. BELSPO created a national accompanying committee "European sources for synchrotron radiation and neutrons" (NAC SRN) with representatives of the concerned Belgian research institutes in order to optimise the use of ESRF and ILL.
Read more on the ESRF website...

EUMETSAT (EUropean organisation for the exploitation of METeorological SATellites)
EUMETSAT plans, finances and exploits an operational network of European meteorological satellites used for daily weather forecasting and for environmental monitoring. The EUMETSAT satellite systems are integrated into a world-wide observational network coordinated by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO). Belgian representation is provided by the Royal Meteorological Institute and the Federal Science Policy. The SAF's (Satellite Application Facility) consists of a consortium of institutes from the Member States of EUMETSAT and delivers on a continuous basis a number of thematic meteorological and environmental products. From Belgium, the Royal Meteorological Institute is involved in the SAF Climate monitoring, the SAF Land Surface Analysis, the SAF Operational Hydrology and Water Management, and the SAF Ozone and Atmospheric Chemistry Monitoring.
The Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy is also involved in the latter SAF.
Read more on the EUMETSAT website...

ILL (Institut Laue-Langevin)
The Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL) is a European intergovernmental research centre based in Grenoble, France, operating the most intense neutron source in the world. The ILL is operated by the 3 founding countries – France, Germany and the UK – in association with its scientific partner countries. Belgium, in a consortium with Sweden (BELSWENI), became a scientific member in 2008 for a first period of 5 years. The ILL was founded in 1967 to provide scientific communities in its member countries with a unique flux of neutrons and matching instruments (some 40) for the study of condensed matter in fields which range from structural biology, chemistry to materials, nuclear physics, magnetism... More than 750 experiments, selected by scientific review committees, are completed each year by about 2000 visiting scientists bearing witness to the scientific success of the facility. BELSPO created a national accompanying committee "European sources for synchrotron radiation and neutrons" (NAC SRN) with representatives of the concerned Belgian research institutes in order to optimise the use of ILL and ESRF
Read more on the ILL website...

INCF (International Neuroinformatics Coordinating Facility)
The INCF was established in 2005 upon advise of the Global Science Forum of the OECD in response to the neuroscience community need for a global network to tackle the challenge of understanding the human brain and its function in health and disease. Neuroinformatics is an emerging discipline dealing with the development of neuroscience databases together with computational models and analytical software in order to optimize the integration, analysis and sharing of vast amounts of experimental data from different sources. The INCF plays a coordinating and stimulating role in the development of guidelines, standards and other unifying activities. Its secretariat is established in the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. Belgian is part of the worldwide network (for an initial period of 5 years) to which, apart from other European countries, also the USA and Japan belong.
Read more on the INCF website...

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